Dogs can make great companions, protectors, and additions to any family home. However, some dogs can be dangerous when they aren't properly cared for or trained.
It is the responsibility of Tennessee dog owners to properly train and maintain control of their dogs. When owners fail to do so, bystanders or visitors can be seriously injured.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year — affecting an average of 1 in 69 people. About 800,000 of report incidents required medical treatment.
The CDC identifies common diseases that can be contracted from dog bites. These include:
- Rabies — a deadly disease that affects the brain and is transmitted through saliva. Vaccinations are available to treat rabies.
- Capnocytophaga bacteria — a rare infection that may affect people with weak immune systems.
- Pasteurella — the most common infection related to dog bites. Bite victims may experience inflammation at the site of injury. People with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable.
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) — a potentially fatal infection that is resistant to many antibiotics.
- Tetanus — rigid paralysis can occur due to a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium tetani.
Risk factors to watch out for
There are a number of reasons dog bites happen, according to an article in Canine Journal. The leading factors include:
- Reactions to stressful circumstances
- Reactions to fear or the feeling of being threatened
- Reactions to startling situations or not feeling well
- Protection of owners
- Friendly biting that can occur during rough play
According to the article, smaller dogs such as chihuahuas, Jack Russell terriers, bull terriers, Pekingese, and Papillions are the most likely to bite. However, this also includes larger dogs such as pit bulls, bulldogs, and German shepherds.
The dogs with the strongest bites based on pound-force per square inch (PSI) include:
- Kangal — which is known for having the strongest bite at 743 PSI
- Bandog — 730 PSI
- Cane Corso — 700 PSI
- Dogue De Bordeaux — 556 PSI
- Tosa Inu — 556 PSI
- English Mastiffs — 556 PSI
- Dogo Canario — 540 PSI
- Dogo Argentino — 500 PSI
Dog bites may be preventable
Animals are sometimes unpredictable — even those with proper training or those who show no previous signs of aggression. However, there are some precautions you can take to avoid being bitten:
- If you're not familiar with a dog, approach with care or avoid approaching altogether. Some dogs feel threatened in the presence of strangers.
- If you're approached by a dog that doesn't appear friendly, avoid panicking, running, or making eye contact.
- Keep your distance if you see a dog eating, sleeping, or taking care of its puppies.
- Don't pet a dog until after it has sniffed or smelled you. Pet under the chin rather than on the top of the head.
- If you notice a dog is displaying unusual or dangerous behavior, report it to your local animal control immediately.
- If you are knocked over by a dog, simply roll into a ball, avoid eye contact, and cover your neck and ears.
- Avoid rough or aggressive play
Some dog bites occur unprovoked and can affect bystanders not known to the dog or the owner. If you were bitten by a dog, get immediate medical attention and consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Thompson Law.